The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!


Scientific Names


  • Erechthites hieracifolia L.
  • Compositae
  • Composite family

Common Names

  • Fireweed
  • Various leaved fleabane

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Parts Usually Used

Whole plant
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Pilewort is a native North American annual plant; the thick, succulent, grooved stem grows from 1-8 feet high and bears alternate, lanceolate, acute irregularly dentate leaves, 2-8 inches long, that are petioled near the bottom of the plant and clasping near the top. Whitish, brush-shaped flower heads grow in loose terminal clusters from July to October. The plant has a disagreeable odor and taste. The fruit, an achenium, is oblong and hairy.

Somewhat resembles Sow thistle.

Also called fireweed (E. angustifolium L.) of the Evening-primrose family. Native Americans poulticed peeled root for burns, skin sores, swelling, boils.
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Where Found

Grows in fields, woods, waste places, and burned-over areas from the Atlantic coast westward to Saskatchewan, Nebraska, Texas, and Mexico.
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Medicinal Properties

Alterative, astringent, cathartic, emetic, tonic
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Another plant is known as pilewort (Ranunculus ficaria), used to treat piles, constipation, and varicose veins. If taken internally, do not use without medical supervision.
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Pilewort can be used for diarrhea cystitis, dropsy, colon trouble, tonsillitis, hay fever, dysentery, cholera, blood purifier, and for fever. Said to be very effective against hemorrhoids. In large doses it produces vomiting.

Externally, used for muscular rheumatism, sciatica.

The tincture of the fresh whole plant is used for diarrhea, gonorrhea, hemorrhage, metrorrhagia, and orchitis (inflammation of the testes).
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Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: steep 1 heaping tsp. of the plant in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes. When cool, take 1 to 2 cups a day, one swallow at a time.

Tincture: take 1/2 to 1 tsp. at a time.
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How Sold

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In large doses it produces vomiting. Take only for one week at a time.

Take the capsules with a swallow of milk.
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Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

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